KEITH NEWBERY Is it the right time to splash out on a royal spectacle?

You may as well get used to Ingrid Seward's face, because you'll be seeing plenty of it between now and the Royal wedding next summer.

She has been editor of Majesty magazine for years and has become one of the talking heads television producers rely on when anything – good or bad – happens to the House of Windsor.

As soon as the news broke about William and Kate’s engagement, she was scuttling from studio to studio dispensing pearls of (no doubt) highly-priced wisdom.

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It’s an enviable job because no opinion she ventures, no rumour she floats, no inside knowledge she claims to possess about the Royal Family is ever subjected to any meaningful scrutiny.

As long as it’s relatively anodyne and unlikely to frighten the horses, she can say pretty much what she likes.

You can’t blame the woman for filling her boots, of course. After all, she won’t be the only one to benefit from Prince William’s decision to invite a comely scion of middle England to join him at the altar.

David Cameron was determined to make the most of it and had his ‘people’s princess’ moment outside Downing Street, cheeks glowing as he expressed his government’s delight at the news.

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And he was probably a lot happier than any of us realised. After all, what better to distract the electorate from the social and economic calamity about to befall it than the glister and euphoria of some royal nuptials?

In this respect there are distinct echoes of 1947, when the spectacle of the Queen’s marriage was intended as the perfect antidote to the mood of a depressed country still suffering the drab and impecunious consequences of the last war.

But there are differences between then and now – and they are important ones.

For a start, Britain is no longer the deferential society it once was, and there are alread rumblings about the expense of next summer’s spectacular and who is going to meet it.

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And there are plenty – including committed royalists – who will regard a conspicuous display of affluence (no matter who foots the bill) as crass and insensitive in these increasingly austere times.

That’s why it is so important that the balance between spectacle and sensible expenditure is scrupulously monitored in the months ahead.